A couple of years after Michaela was born (I think this was about 1996), I had a serious flirtation with being a distance runner. I had never been a runner and because of some health problems that had derailed my obsessive fitness craze, I wanted to return to something just as obsessive (I guess) but without being able to compare my current “performance” with a previous one. Running was safe since I had never had even the remotest interest in being a runner.

During my flirtation with running, I learned a great deal about the Christian life–God used my training runs to teach me so much and when I finally ran the San Francisco Marathon, I took a little booklet with me that I had made ahead of time. Each page represented a mile. I had written down quotes, verses, and people to pray for on each page…so for that mile, I would use those cues to help me focus on something other than how miserable I was 🙂 and when I passed the mile marker, I would tear the corner off the page. It was an absolutely wonderful growing, learning experience.

I can fear starting things because of hating to “fail,” so even crossing the marathon starting line was a HUGE victory! The fact that I finished the marathon at all, made me the winner from where I sat! (Even if it was after everyone else had gone home! LOL!)

Today’s lesson brought up wonderful points from Hebrews 12:1-4 and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 .

When I began training, I couldn’t wear my old tennies and sweats. Instead, I wore the lightest possible clothing that would do the job. The shoes had to be supportive, but light–well made as we were going to be running 100s of miles in preparation for the marathon.

Once I got into running, I would never have imagined putting the old clothes back on for an 18 mile training run…they were too heavy and floppy and would hold me back from being the best I could possibly be.

Likewise, these scriptures teach us to throw off sin and anything that entangles. ANYthing that could hold us back from being the best that the Lord wants us to be in this course called life.

Once I got to San Francisco, I would never have dreamed of trying to tackle the sometimes hilly marathon course with a backpack filled with books on my back, for instance. There are some things, that while not sin, are going to hold me back.

I am called to throw off all of it. Anything that even hinders me. This is one reason why I have chosen not to drink nutrasweet any more. I could see that it was hindering me. Also, this is why I have chosen to get rid of the bathroom scale…while not “sin,” it was a hindrance. I had to throw these things off!

Anyone who runs a race must not only throw off all excess weight and avoid anything that encumbers, but they must also have a well-defined goal. (TLT, p. 151)

What I fix my eyes, my hopes, my heart on…that will affect how well I run, how I persevere.

If a thought came into my mind to top off my dinner with a large milk shake I would obey the thought. I was literally a slave to my cravings. But now I am instructed to turn things around, to make my body my slave. In other words, I am to master my cravings, and make my body subservient to my spiritual desires to honor the Lord in all things. (TLT, p. 151)

Focusing our lives on Jesus will enable us to throw off all excess weight and anything that hinders, keep us from becoming entangled in sin, help us to exercise self-control in all things, enable us to discipline our bodies and make them our slaves. This is the heart of the matter, fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ. (TLT, p. 151)

The antidote to growing weary and losing heart is to look to Jesus, to consider Him, to focus upon Him and follow Him. If we consider Jesus Christ we will see that He did everything in His life on earth from a motivation to glorify God, and we are reminded to have the same motive. As we focus on Him we will see the One who endured hostility and opposition, yet pressed on, not turning back or giving in, and we are challenged to press on. As we contemplate Christ, we see Him endure suffering in His flesh to the point of shedding His blood for our sins, and we are reminded to endure, to persist, to persevere. This is the value of looking to Jesus. This is the importance of focusing on Him. If we look to Him, we cannot grow weary or lose heart and give up. (TLT, p. 151)

I want to finish this race. And I know that the only way I can finish strong is by focusing on Jesus, the one who is my example. He inspires and motivates me. When I consider all He has done for me, it seems crazy that I would not let go of some bites of food, or set aside something that hangs me up…for Him. He is so worthy.